January 9, 2012 § 6 Comments
On Friday, as my co-workers and I spent our lunch hour wandering the aisles of a nearby Walmart, I spotted the February issue of Canadian Living Magazine already out on newsstands!
I did my rounds of grocery shopping on Saturday and, indeed, the issue is available everywhere magazines are sold in Canada. So if you’re in Canada, please head over to your closest newsstands to pick up a copy and turn to pages 66-67. For those of you beyond our Canadian borders, you can find the article at canadianliving.com. (I will update once the craft is available for viewing online).
Here it is! Treat boxes in the likeness of candy hearts for you to make for your sweetheart this Valentine’s!
Am I giddy! My first print publication. Well, my “first”, unless considered are my monthly column for our local Parish newspaper at the age of 13 and my dreadful illustrations in the high school newspaper, but they simply won’t (shan’t) count. So yes, this is my first print publication. Ever. And of the year. I am so blessed. I didn’t imagine when I started this blog not so long ago that my first print publication would be a two-page spread in a national magazine.
I cannot wait to share with you other publications to follow in 2012 (and, praying for a bit of luck, beyond). I could not have more gratitude for the opportunities being given. Thank you!
January 8, 2012 § 4 Comments
Here we are — me with mom, dad, and my older brother — posing inside the Compuware building before gorging on meat at Texas de Brazil in downtown Detroit. As you know, my parents are Michiganders and all holidays of the year are spent south of the Canadian border.
I also want to share with you pictures of the wonderful handcrafted treasures adorning my parents’ house during Christmas each year, and hope you will find some inspiration in these pieces for your own handmade decorations.
The craftiness of my culture is something I take much pride in. At your next décor jaunt to, say, Pier One for example, if you take a good look you will discover that many of the “earthy” products are crafted in the Philippines. Craft is a huge part of Philippine export and culture, specifically crafts made out of natural products such as wood and fibers. My mom has traveled many trips to Manila only to haul back luggage filled with holiday handcrafted décor.
My parents’ nine-foot tall tree is peppered with a number of unique handmade ornaments, out of molded pulp and embellished with rhinestones and large opalescent red beads. They remind me of fashion earrings, except about four times the size (I tried to wear them once for amusement, however, until oversize earrings reaching past the collarbone become fashionable, I will leave them on the tree).
My parents also have a spectacular Philippine-made crèche on their fireplace mantle. Each character is up to 10 inches tall and carefully crafted using native fibers. The material is similar to the decorative mesh bought at craft stores. However, these fibers have finer lattice and are more pliable. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the three kings, and the angel all don garments sewn out of these fibers. I love the added details, such as the ropes and tassels, and especially the fluffy feathers on the angel’s wings.
The set is a gift from my aunt who bought it at a craft show in Manila ten years ago. The following year, my uncle found a near-identical Philippine-made crèche at a boutique at the tony Yorkville neighborhood here in Toronto. He laughed after his sticker-shock — each character was being sold at $100 a piece, putting the whole set in the $700 mark. My aunt paid only a fraction at the source in Manila. If you are inspired, perhaps you can make your own this year! Sew some decorative mesh for the garments and bake some polymer clay for the faces, hats, crowns, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and you have yourself a substantial project for 2012!
December 15, 2011 § 8 Comments
So I thought (we all thought) my paper clip Christmas crafts were done with. But I realized I hadn’t crafted a single Christmas card for the blog this season. Gasp! Is Christmas ten days away?
Given my recent posts, paper clips were right here within reach and this was just too easy. I happen to have a huge tub of colored paper clips with perfect shades for Christmas shapes.
These cards can be easily crafted by little hands. Just dab the paper clips on some glue and design away.
December 9, 2011 § 3 Comments
For a while I felt chalkboard crafts have grown tired, but I just couldn’t resist another! It’s been a while since my last (the 3-D chalkboard cake I made for Craft was back in July). What I also couldn’t resist (the carrot Easter basket I made for Canadian Living‘s The Craft Blog glares at me daily as it hangs by the doorway to my craft room) is another project using a dollar store safety cone…
So here it is, a chalkboard Christmas tree born out of a love affair between chalkboard spray paint and an orange safety cone. And a couple of sprays of primer (you don’t want to skip priming!).
This project has actually been sitting on newspapers on the floor for the past week, dried and unattended for days. I was so wrapped up in researching (nightly; obsessively) my own Christmas present to myself, erm, to Paper, Plate, and Plane (i.e. a new camera!), that I forgot all about it. Then this morning, amidst packing my lunch for work and packing my clothes for an upcoming weekend in NYC with O.T., I remembered it was incomplete. I hastily scribbled some designs before leaving for work. As much as I would’ve wanted to spend time on them, I couldn’t. But if and when you make one for yourself or your kids or grandkids, I wish you many hours of doodling merriment!
December 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
Push pins. Rubber bands. And now for my final installment of Christmas décor out of office supplies. A $4 box of 1,000 paper clips made up this avant-garde tree.
I was most looking forward to creating this out of all four trees I made, assuming all four would be equally simple. I was wrong about this one. The concept is simple, but, admittedly, fussy to achieve.
First you have to create a garland of paper clips by stringing them through a thin, light gauge wire. I calculated about 2,000 consecutive seconds (33 minutes, at 2 seconds per paper clip) to finish this first and important step. However, I was also intent on having each paper clip face the exact same way and discovered it was best to string the paper clip through the end that has a smaller loop. The smaller loop acts as a lock to prevent the paper clip from shifting as much as it would had it been strung through the larger loop. And I didn’t account for several spills. Oh, also, 1,000 paper clips weren’t quite sufficient. Luckily, I had some extras stashed from when I designed my paper clip necklace last December. I used about 1,100 paper clips all in all, and the garland took much longer than the time allocated.
Then attaching the garland to a 6″ Styrofoam cone is presumably simple, too. But not. I inserted one end (at least 1-1/2″) of the wire into the side of the cone and started wrapping the garland around the cone (it really is important to use thin wire and not string, as the purpose of the wire is to be stuck into the cone). This was when I ran into the problem of paper clips bunching together. After several ineffective attempts, I managed to keep the paper clips aligned and flat on the table as I slowly wrapped the garland upwards. I made sure I formed the wire along the cone to minimize the garland from sliding down (the weight of 1,100 paper clips will slide down). Again, another important reason to use wire: so that the shape can be maintained. When that is done, then the rest is simple. I just secured the wire (at least 1-1/2″) into the top of the cone.
Despite it all, I’m glad I did this and the other trees! If you’re just tuning in now, over the past three posts I made crystal Christmas trees from push pins, a shag Christmas tree from rubber bands, and rubber-band wrapped trees. Enjoy!
December 5, 2011 § 5 Comments
I had enough rubber bands to spare from my one-pound bag to make these rubber band-wrapped Christmas trees as the third installment of my Christmas décor from office supplies.
If you’ve missed the previous two, you can find crystal Christmas trees from push pins here and a shag Christmas tree from rubber bands here. And if you’re not into shaggy trees made of rubber bands, these here are chic and just as easy.
Cover Styrofoam cone with rubber bands horizontally. Then vertically. Done! Now wasn’t that quicker than wrapping and gluing cones with sisal?
December 5, 2011 § 3 Comments
Now, now. We all know the 70′s have made a feverish comeback. Middle-parted long hair, wide jeans and trousers, and elevator wedges are rapidly ousting teased poufs, skinny pants, and flats. Now onto 70′s shag for some home décor!
As you know, I’ve spent the majority of my weekend making holiday décor out office supplies.
So, I reached for a huge bag of rubber bands at Staples (a pound for less than $4) to hail the big comeback of the 70′s with a quick-n-easy shag Christmas tree. No, not that kind of quick-n-easy shag. Umm. Indeed, a very quirky craft compared to yesterday’s classy crystal Christmas trees from clear push pins. But who doesn’t love quirky?
One pound of rubber bands is more than enough to make two 9″ shag trees.
1. Cut one rubber band open. Thread through rubber bands.
2. When you have enough rubber bands threaded through, tie in a knot to close.
3. Take your ring of rubber bands and place around the bottom of Styrofoam cone.
4. Cut all rubber bands open.
5. Continue steps 1-4 until you have your tree covered.
Now that I’ve stared at this craft for too long, I think I might add paper wings to the sides and a small Styrofoam ball (with closed eyes and a smile) on top of the tree and I’ve got a very unique Christmas angel! I shall try it out…
Another variation of rubber band Christmas trees to follow.
November 20, 2011 § 8 Comments
Ok, so a month later, finally a recap of my first TV appearance!
I had the most wonderful experience at Canadian Living Magazine headquarters and Citytv Breakfast Television here in Toronto on October 25th! It was a very early morning, which started at 3:45 when my alarm sounded, after which I immediately threw hot rollers in my hair, and loaded my car with carved pumpkins. Arrival and set-up was 5:30. Make-up 6:00. And my super short three minutes of fame slated at 7:53 am.
This may sound odd to you — in the spring months I had actually visualized being on Breakfast Television and carving my butternut squashes. A premonition? “The Secret” come to life? Ok, I’m not here to prove nor disprove the law of attraction. However, back in the spring, I had a moment of reflection after a couple of friends urged me to pitch my crafts to the show. I supposed if I would pitch anything in the spring, it would have to be for something six months ahead, in the fall. I thought, if I were to make my first crafting appearance on live local TV, I’ll carve squashes.
As it goes, I didn’t bother with the pitch. Who cares about a random blogger carving anything on live television? The end to a reverie.
Then the bizarre twist of fate. While I was in California last month, I received an email. The short of it: Breakfast Television. Me. Carving Pumpkins. Here’s to you, universe — in my hands are the fate of pumpkins, not squashes! Seriously, though, what are the chances that my first television appearance would be to carve some autumnal gourd as I had earlier prophesized?
More importantly, you’re probably wondering — how do I get a random email request such as this?
I could not be more thankful to Canadian Living Magazine. I guess I have been silent here and not been revealing much about the work I do outside of this blog, until the work manifests itself in public. This year, I have had the greatest creative opportunity to work on crafts projects with Canadian Living Magazine. You’ve read the posts I wrote for The Craft Blog earlier this year. But, I have also been busy designing some fun crafts for the magazine’s print issues in 2012. The process is lengthy for print publication, and crafts ideas and articles go through a gestation period of sorts for about ten months before they are born into the world. In fact, this month of November, I was busily crafting for the April and May 2012 issues. Yep, despite my lull online, I’m not totally a slacker (not entirely, though I should totally pick up the pace on this blog)!
So, on with the show! We had four segments filmed live inside the Test Kitchen (where the magazine prepares all recipes in-house). I joined the three amazingly talented women: Austen Gilliland (Senior Editor and Craft Editor), Adell Shneer (Test Kitchen Manager), and Rheanna Kish (Food Specialist), and we each did a segment on creative Halloween ideas.
Of course, seeing that this is a month late, I just went to Breakfast Television’s site and wasn’t able to find the full episode that day. However, I found our individual video clips. I have no idea how to embed non-Youtube videos, so please click on each image to link to the video:
Adell had the first segment and concocted a cauliflower “brain” with dip. You totally have to try this recipe out. It is packed with cheese and absolutely delicious!
Me and my hair and, oh right, my pumpkins went for the second segment. I really did not anticipate a third of the segment would become about my hair! I wish there was time to explain the “convertible pumpkins” which let your children design and paint the features of the pumpkin. The features can then be placed on the pumpkins for funny faces during the day and removed to make jack-o-lanterns at night
Rheanna had the third segment and she made some yummy sweet-salty-spicy zombie popcorn. I could not have enough! Sweet. Salty. Spicy. You would be remiss not to try this recipe out!
The fourth clip of Austen doing creepy crafts is not available. Boo. It’s really too bad, she made awesome paper packaging for the popcorn! On a good note, I did a search and found this clip from last winter when she shared cool crafts ideas from the book, “Create, Update, Remake”. How timely — these are fantastic projects and gifts for winter and Christmas! Enjoy!
January 12, 2011 § 28 Comments
I love a great challenge. Iron Craft’s taunt, “1 year, 52 challenges…are you creative enough?”, is one I am not willing to dismiss! I discovered the site last week, the day before the first deadline and scurried for the challenge: “Lighting the Winter Gloom”. I hit the clearance bins that Tuesday night for white Christmas lights and they were sold out. But I didn’t leave empty handed. I snagged red lights, despite that my shining idea is deferred to another time. I couldn’t submit — red lights weren’t going to work for me on Iron Craft, not with the unusual idea I had in mind. Instead, I crafted a Valentine’s-themed wall lamp and am heartily pleased with the outcome even with my lack of submission.
Now, this week, it’s all fair game. The challenge is: “Stay Warm” and make a draft dodger (a clever cloth contraption to keep the cold air at bay). I read the post and my idea instantaneously dawned. Draft dodgers fight the chill. Army men are drafted. Army men fight…well, the idea came together quite orderly (Yessir! Pun intended, sir!). These are not the type of “draft dodgers” evading enlistment!
My army of soldiers fights the chill on this crafty draft dodger. Of course, I have the step-by-step tutorial so you can recreate this project!
You will need:
a. A 3″ wide strip of foam, the length of your door or windowsill.
b. Brown burlap and natural burlap. It may seem counterintuitive to use a fabric that has a loose weave, but burlap in fact possesses proficient insulating and protective properties. Burlapsack.org explains some uses of burlap, including as energy efficient curtains. Convenient that it’s inexpensive. I spent just over $1 on this burlap, and have remnants to use for small future projects. Perfect, too, for my army barracks!
c. Beans. I used less than $1 worth of soy, as they are some of the cheaper options.
d. A brave army of toy soldiers.
1. Cut the brown burlap to size (enough to wrap your strip of foam with an allowance for seams). Fold in half. Sew the length and sew one of the short ends.
2. Turn the tube inside out. Carefully feed the foam through. I used two long dowels to aid in this process. Sew the end shut.
3. Sew small squares and rectangles and fill with beans. The best way is to sew long, narrow pieces (about 1-1/2″ to 1-3/4″ in width) into tubes, then cut into shorter lengths (between 1-1/2″ and 2-1/2″). For each piece, sew one end, then fill, and sew shut.
4. Arrange and adhere the small bean bags using a hot glue gun. Or you can sew them on.
5. I opted to glue thumbtacks on the bottoms of the soldiers, to give them the freedom to huddle and arrange positions.
Now my windowsill is armed and guarded. Is it snow or an oversize white flag I see blanketed outdoors?!?
December 19, 2010 § 59 Comments
If you’re still considering what to use as a centerpiece this holiday, here’s a very stunning project you can easily do: make silver rosettes out of the edges of foil pie pans and glue them together into one very marvelous and modern topiary.
This is one of those ideas I wish I had conceived earlier in the season. The belated idea only dawned on me last weekend as I was making my floral stamped clay bangles, which I baked on a couple of foil pie pans. I’ve been saving them for purposes like that and this. I always knew my small collection of foil pie pans could be used for something really wonderful. However, I was kidding myself — I could barely make a topiary out of the handful stored in my cupboard. This project requires a good bundle of them — eighty in total. I bought much, much more from the dollar store and managed to pull off this décor masterpiece for less than $15 (and that includes a whole pack of glue sticks, also from the dollar store).
You will need:
a. 30 of 9″ pie pans and 50 of 4″ pie pans.
b. Hot glue gun and glue sticks (I used up a pack of 16 glue sticks).
c. Balloon, strips of newspaper, and some white glue or papier maché paste.
1. Papier maché your balloon. I use a simple 1:1 ratio of white glue and water. Let dry and release the balloon.
2. Paint the papier maché ball. I chose an apple green color that I imagined would give a funky dimension to the topiary, however, in hindsight, I wish I had chosen black.
3. Cut away the flat bottom of your foil pie pan.
4. Roll into a rose. Please BE CAREFUL as the edges are sharp. Only touch the uncut edges.
5. Continue steps 3 and 4 for all 80 pans.
6. Using a hot glue gun, randomly glue the roses on the papier maché ball.
The result of this project turned out so much better than I had conceived in my mind. I had the fear that it would look cheap, but it’s in fact no easy guess that this topiary is made from foil pie pans! I intend on using this topiary for several holiday seasons. What’s best is that once I’m done with it years from now, it will go straight into recycling. The foil pie pans are 100% recyclable, so is the papier maché ball I used as a base.
P.S. If you’re having a modern winter wedding, I think this might be the diva-on-a-dime décor item for you.
December 15, 2010 § 6 Comments
I sorely miss the eccentric, eclectic, and colorful city of San Francisco. So much so that I decided to make gingerbread row houses as an ode to the city’s iconic Painted Ladies fronting Alamo Square Park. These are not your usual gingerbread houses, they are ice cream sandwiches. And not just any ice cream — mango ice cream. Given that the Bay Area accommodates the largest concentration of the Asian-American populace, I thought exotic ginger and mango couldn’t be more perfect flavors to make these fun treats.
I’m in the Bay Area several times a year, considering it’s where O.T. is currently residing. This year, I spent a combined three months there, but still can’t help but feel that time could be extended.
The above is a shot of us from the summer of 2009. I seldom go to Alamo Square Park, but always get a good chuckle out of the audience each time I visit. I’ve always been confounded by the intent crowd watching the houses (perhaps they’re expecting Bob Saget or the Olsen twins to come out on the porch?).
December 6, 2010 § 4 Comments
It is certainly December! I drove back to Toronto to be met with a generous dusting of snow (oh, a good half a foot deep), after spending the weekend down in Michigan at my parents’. They threw a sizeable party for 50 people for a late Thanksgiving and early Christmas celebration. I’m utterly exhausted. I took on two experimental Asian desserts as well as prepared and packaged 50 favors — a small dent in an extensive party spread. I really can’t comprehend how mom hosts such big parties. I’ve got a lot to learn.
My idea for the party favors evolved quite, hmmm, favorably. About two weeks ago, I made a random visit to my local packaging supplier and found individual gold truffle boxes and miniature poinsettias on clearance for bargain-basement, jaw-dropping, only-a-fool-would-resist prices. The boxes were 25 for $1 and the poinsettias 36 for $1. For 50 people, $4 on all this beautiful packaging is beyond a steal.
Keeping things frugal and fuss-free, I thought of filling the truffle boxes with chocolate-covered roasted chestnuts. It’s the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire, afterall. But there’s an easy substitute to buying fresh chestnuts for roasting. These days, Asian grocery stores sell packaged roasted chestnuts all year long, and they are just as good as fresh roasted chestnuts. A package will run you about $1.50, containing anywhere between 15-20 roasted chestnuts (already peeled), depending on quality and size. As luck would have it, I found packages of delicious chestnuts for $1 each. Three packages were enough for 50 favors. It took no more than half an hour to melt down a couple of dollars worth of Ghirardelli dark chocolate and dip the chestnuts.
The creamy texture of the chestnuts is comparable to very firm ganache, with some grit. In fact, I could’ve gotten away with calling these chestnut truffles, as they have the air and luxury of truffles. But at under $10 worth of ingredients and packaging for all 50 favors, there’s simply no putting up pretenses!
December 2, 2010 § 4 Comments
Yesterday’s darling no knit mini stockings may seem a wee bit without purpose considering they can be filled with no more than a Hershey Kiss or two. However, I think they are the perfect messenger for your most noteworthy greetings this holiday season.
What I have for you today are several Christmas card ideas using the mini stockings from yesterday’s no-knit tutorial.
December 1, 2010 § 12 Comments
I am a “crafter” who does not knit or crochet. For this, I am ever so profoundly apologetic. At some point in my life, at the able age of 10, my mom acquainted me with knitting and crocheting needles and, as I vaguely recollect, a cross-stitch kit. The introductions were short and my kinship with those crafts simply didn’t last. At the age of 10, I was mainly too absorbed constructing boxes out of cardboard and drafting my dream mansion’s floor plans on graph paper – curiosities inherited from my dad, as were my X-Acto knife, mechanical pencil, and ruler. Those were my tools. By the age of 16, I was working at a hardware store and started my collection of power tools using my employee discount. I bought my own scroll saw which was followed, over time, by a cordless drill, a rotary tool, a jig saw, then my dad gifted me his table saw.
It was only 4 years ago, when I started designing wedding invitations with sewn silk and satin sashes, that I bought myself a sewing machine. For someone so comfortable running heavy sheets of MDF through a 10″ lethal blade circling at over 3,000 revolutions per minute, I still get so much anxiety using a sewing machine.
That, in a nutshell, is the history of my skill set. And it explains the extreme lopsidedness of my crafting skills. Not entirely secure with the term crafter, I prefer to consider myself a builder of things and a perpetrator of ideas. Even my approach to food has a little element of my need to construct.
Of late, I have developed a profound longing to create things that are knitted, crocheted, or sewn. I have a long way and a steep learning curve ahead of me if I want to be able to knit and crochet and sew just as creatively as I create things out of paper. I want to do it well and soon.
Attempting to negate my lack of skills in those departments, this project of making miniature Christmas stockings dawned on me, in most ways like a solution. Instead of challenging myself to knit, I solved my way out of knitting.
To construct these miniature Christmas stockings, you will need red gloves, white gloves, a pair of scissors, a needle, and red thread. Cut the fingers of the red glove and cut the bottom third in a 45-degree angle. Cut three fingers of the white glove, and cut into smaller 1/2″ segments. Turn the pieces inside out and sew together, by hand, as shown. Either reusing old gloves or spending $1 on a brand new pair, this project is definitely a cheap cheat.